Wildcats off to impressive 7-2 start
Taylor Burnett used his bat and arm to lead De Soto to a road win last Thursday against Osawatomie.
It didn't matter if the junior pitcher was at the plate or on the mound, he found a way to be effective in De Soto's 5-3 first-game win over the Trojans. Osawatomie won the second game 8-4.
Wildcats baseball coach Steve Deghand had this take on Burnett's performance last week.
"It really isn't too tough to play that well in two phases of the game like that," the coach said. "I think that when you get locked in on one part of the game that it's easier to get locked in on another part of the game. He was seeing the ball well and was focused on the mound. One fed off of the other."
Burnett struck out 10 Trojan batters and allowed just one earned run in his seven-inning complete-game performance. He allowed three hits, while throwing 66 strikes in 97 pitches. Burnett walked one batter and hit another.
On offense, Burnett had four singles in four at bats and was responsible for scoring a run and knocked in another during the win.
The Wildcats got another good pitching performance in the second game although the score didn't indicate it, as the team suffered its first loss of the year.
Tyler Farmer's second-game effort went for naught when the defense playing behind him committed nine errors. It was quite a contrast from the opening game of the series.
"It's like stringing hits together," Deghand said. "It's contagious. I think it was a lack of concentration. I don't have an answer for it. If I did, I'd make a lot of money."
Farmer threw 54 strikes in scattering seven hits, and gave up one earned run with the 88 pitches he threw in the second game. He struck out four batters and walked three more. Just the same, he was credited with the loss.
"Tyler got off to a rough start," Deghand said. "But then he found the strike zone and turned it around. When seven of the eight runs you give up are unearned, that's a pretty tough spot to be in."
Although De Soto scored nearly as many runs in the second game, its offense wasn't nearly as potent as the first-game win. Still, it would have been enough.
The Wildcats' bats managed just four hits and a .148 team batting average in the nightcap, compared to 11 singles in 31 at bats in the first game.
Hunter Noe and Jacob Rupe carried the big sticks for the Wildcats in the four-run loss. Noe was just 1-for-4 from the plate. But his one hit was a two-run home run.
Rupe had a double in two official at bats but also walked twice. Both Rupe and Noe ended the game with a 1.000 slugging percentage.
Noe replaced Farmer on the mound in the sixth inning and got the final two outs. The senior threw seven strikes in nine pitches and struck out a batter. He also hit a batter and gave up a hit.
"He threw well," Deghand said of his relief pitcher. "We asked him to get us out of the mess and he did."
The Wildcats split a pair of games with Baldwin Tuesday, winning the first one 7-2 and falling in the second contest 7-1.
In winning the first game, the Wildcats improved their league mark to 5-0. Because teams in the Frontier League don't always play each other twice, the first game of doubleheaders always counts toward a team's league record.
De Soto ran their bunt offense to near perfection in the first game and as a result was able to manufacture runs.
"We put pressure on them with our bunting game," Deghand said. "And they responded by throwing the ball around a little bit."
The Wildcats played solid defense in the opener by avoiding errors.
Deghand said his team just didn't play well enough to win in the nightcap.
"We didn't hit well" Deghand said. "I was sick and tired of seeing the little nubbers rolling around. But I guess you have to give them credit for that. Their pitcher threw well. They're trying to do to us what we're trying to do to them."
De Soto had an opportunity to rally from a 4-1 deficit in the bottom of the fifth inning of the second game. But with the bases loaded and one out De Soto struck out and grounded out to the pitcher on back-to-back at bats to end the threat.
De Soto, 7-2, will take the field at 4:30 p.m. Monday when they travel to Paola for a single game.